The transportation industry is in the midst of a transformation. Now considered by some as part of a broader mobility industry, transportation businesses must continually navigate through new challenges, including technological advances that reduce certain types of demand, changing consumer preferences and the cyclical nature of economy and demand. In addition, the industry is highly regulated by the U.S. government.

Many of our attorneys have devoted their practices to serving the needs of clients in the automotive, railroad and transportation industries, representing automotive companies, railroads, rail equipment manufacturers, transportation and distribution service providers and shippers. We strive to consistently keep our clients informed, deliver comprehensive, strategic advice and, ultimately, improve our clients’ mobility in this ever-changing environment.

Taft’s experience in advocating clients’ causes has involved transportation contracts, freight loss and damage claims, insurance, employment and labor relations, warehousing, equipment leasing, and undercharge claim litigation and regulatory compliance, including U.S. Department of Transportation and state safety standards.


Taft is a nationally recognized leader in representing railroads in mass tort, crossing litigation, FELA claims, environmental matters, short-line disputes, and regulatory and compliance matters. Taft attorneys also assist rail industry clients with issues involving labor, employment and tax.

Our lawyers have litigated numerous high-profile cases at all levels of the federal and state court systems and in numerous jurisdictions. We have submitted numerous railroad law-related briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, both for parties and amicus curiae. Through these cases, our attorneys have gained extensive trial and appellate experience, as well as deep knowledge of federal preemption and jurisdictional issues.

Our attorneys have handled numerous high-profile derailment litigation matters, including thousands of toxic exposure and personal injury claims stemming from major derailments in Minot, North Dakota; Cherry Valley, Illinois; and Bourbonnais, Illinois. Taft has also handled more than 100 personal injury and property damage claims and causes of action by the state and city stemming from alleged leakage of millions of gallons of diesel fuel.

We have vast experience with the Federal Railroad Safety Act, Locomotive Inspection Act, and Safety Appliance Act preemption of state law claims and standards of care, and have also successfully represented clients in numerous trials and appeals involving FELA claims, crossing accidents, and trespasser/pedestrian injuries. Taft lawyers also represents Class I carriers in contract disputes, Carmack Amendment claims and various other commercial matters.

In addition, Taft also represents railroads in a variety of environmental matters, including private litigation and government actions. Our attorneys have considerable experience dealing with the many business, scientific and legal issues surrounding pollution disputes. Our lawyers have extensively analyzed and litigated the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) from a railroad’s perspective.   

Notable Matters

Selected representative matters for railroad industry clients include:

  • Defended thousands of claims and numerous trials stemming from a Minot, North Dakota derailment.
  • Defended numerous personal injury and wrongful death claims following a train derailment in Cherry Valley, Illinois, including obtaining a favorable settlement following a five-week jury trial.
  • Defended through jury verdict an FELA claim alleging traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder with allegations of significant damages.
  • Obtained defense verdict for railroad in wrongful death case.
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal of two wrongful death claims stemming from railroad crossing accident.
  • Obtained summary judgment and affirmance on appeal in crossing accident case with allegations of significant damages of personal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Obtained summary judgment based on Locomotive Inspection and Safety Appliance Act preemption for rail equipment manufacturers and lessors in numerous cases.
  • Advised and assisted on FRA and PHMSA compliance, including matters involving hazardous materials transportation, tank car construction and inspection requirements, locomotive and rail car design standards, accident/incident reporting, employee qualification, and train operations.

Selected representative matters for transportation industry clients include:

  • Advised and assisted on federal/state DOT regulatory compliance, including hours of service, driver qualifications, hazardous materials and drug/alcohol testing, and the development and negotiation of motor carrier/shipper contracts.
  • Drafted, negotiated and administered transportation agreements involving motor carriers, property brokers, freight forwarders, air freight forwarders, ocean carriers and warehouse services providers.
  • Prosecuted freight loss and damage claim against motor carrier for damage to food products due to failure to provide protective services.
  • Represented motor carrier clients in the drafting and administration of independent contractor services agreements.
  • Intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, corporate law and environmental law for a Fortune 500 engine design and manufacturing company.
  • Corporate and intellectual property matters for a large automatic transmissions manufacturer.
  • Litigation and environmental counseling for a premier tire manufacturer.
  • Assistance in the formation of the largest floor plan lender corporation, in addition to litigation, including replevin, receiverships, bankruptcy and other defense of tort claims.
  • NHTSA, regulatory compliance, general business, litigation, trademark law and environmental law services to a manufacturer of recreational vehicles.
  • Collection and related lawsuits, as well as defending RICO claims and other counterclaims, for an inventory financing corporation.
  • Corporate law, state licensing, dealer sales and service agreements, vehicle sales contracts and trademark registration services for an electric van manufacturer.

All Transportation Professionals

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